Football is all about scoring goals. It is no wonder then that attacking midfielders and strikers usually steal all the glory. However, one of the unsung heroes in any team is the defensive midfielder.
A defensive midfielder does the dirty work in the middle of the park. He is able to break up opposition play, set up new attacks and control the rhythm of play in any game. A defensive midfielder should not only be very skilled, but he should also be physically fit and be able to position himself in the right areas.
The five best defensive midfielders of all time
An integral part of many all conquering sides, defensive midfielders rarely get the credit they deserve. Without much ado, let us take a look at the five best defensive midfielders of all time.
#5 Claude Makelele
One of the best defensive midfielders in recent times, Claude Makelele was one of the most important members of the all-conquering Real Madrid and Chelsea sides in the early 2000s.
Blessed with great positioning skills, excellent tackling skills and ball-winning ability, Makelele was usually the player who enabled more creative players like Zinedine Zidane and Frank Lampard to play with freedom and express themselves.
In fact, Claude Makelele's importance to the Real Madrid team could be gauged by Fernando Hierro's quotes on the Frenchman:
"I think Claude has this kind of gift – he's been the best player in the team for years, but people just don't notice him, don't notice what he does. But you ask anyone at Real Madrid during the years we were talking about, and they will tell you he was the best player at Real. We all knew, the players all knew he was the most important."
A true Real Madrid and Chelsea legend, Makelele revolutionised the role of a defensive midfielder in the Premier League.
#4 Didier Deschamps
The captain of France's glorious 1998 World Cup-winning team and the current manager of the French national team, Didier Deschamps was a no nonsense tough-tackling defensive midfielder who played his role to perfection.
Contemptuously nicknamed the 'water carrier' by Eric Cantona, Deschamps often set up France's attacks by winning the ball back and passing it to the attack-minded players.
The legendary Frenchman had a storied club career as well. Initially making a name for himself at Marseille, where he won the UEFA Champions League, Deschamps is best remembered for his time at Juventus, where he won a Champions League title and three Serie A titles.
A hard-working and tenacious midfielder, Deschamps is undoubtedly one of the greatest defensive midfielders of all time.